• Safety Culture & Governance Section


    The Safety Culture & Governance (SC&G) Section provides advisory support to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to promote safety culture, which is an integral part of a safety management system (SMS), and develops guidance on related governance practices and procedures. 

    SC&G Section’s distinct advisory function enhances safety as a part of the SMS Branch of the CPUC’s Safety Policy Division (SPD).


    SC&G Section’s mission is to advance the safety culture and governance at Regulated Entities (RE) by:

    • Implementing, overseeing, and undertaking safety culture investigations.
    • Developing RE specific safety policies, regulatory tools, and metrics for consideration by the CPUC.
    • Providing subject matter expertise to support decision-making in active proceedings regarding the application of safety policies and practices.


    To conceptualize, develop, and implement a transparent safety knowledgebase, rules, standards, and metrics that help assure that a mature and effective safety culture is promoted and maintained within the utilities that the CPUC regulates.

    Educational Information 

    The SC&G Section provides the following information for visitors of this page to highlight some key details related to safety culture and governance.
    What is a Mature/Effective Safety Culture?

    As described in CPUC Investigation (I.)15-08-019, a public utility with a mature safety culture has an organizational culture and governance that prioritize safety and achieves a positive record of safe operation. This proceeding further defines an effective safety culture as one that includes:

    • A clearly articulated set of principles and values with a clear expectation of full compliance.
    • Effective communication and continuous education and testing. ‘Employees will do it right sometimes if they know how.  They're more likely to do it right if they fully understand why.' 
    • Uniform compliance by every individual in the organization, with effective safety metrics, recognition, and compensation, and consequences or accountability for deviating or performing at, above, or below the standard of compliance.  
    • Continuous reassessment of hazards and reevaluation of norms and practices.
    How Do Organizations Develop a Mature Safety Culture?

    To build and continuously maintain a strong safety culture, organizations must implement organizational safety management practices.

    Maintaining a positive safety culture requires continual organizational oversight and diligence. While emphasis on safety from senior leadership is a critical component of a mature safety culture, cultivating a safety culture is a gradual process that must permeate all levels of an organization and be constantly reinforced.  

    How Does Safety Culture Relate to Safety Management Practices?

    A sound organizational safety culture reinforces and supports an effective SMS.

    • Safety Culture and SMSs are inter-dependent: safety culture represents the commitment to achieving safety, while SMS embodies the competence to do so.
    • A graphical representation of Safety Culture and SMS logic are summarized below in Figure 1.



    Figure 1. Relationship between an organization’s safety culture and SMS. Adapted from EuroControl/Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), “Safety Culture in Air Traffic Management: A White Paper”.

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